You’ve heard about the Revolutionary War, and how the history of our country fought for their freedom from Britain. You’ve heard about the founding fathers and the signing of the Declaration of Independence. There are other heroes over the years who have kept our freedoms. These include heroes in our military, who constantly work at keeping us safe. Here are American hero stories to remember.
Military Hero from Minnesota
Lt. Col. Leo Thorsness of Walnut Grove, Minnesota, was a pilot of an F-105 during a battle in 1967. In the skies of Vietnam, he saw his fellow airmen on another plane, who had to eject during the fight. He defended them. While they were fighting enemies, the pilot continued fighting the enemy to keep them safe. Eventually, Thorsness became a prisoner of war, for six long years. For his sky heroics, Thorsness received the Medal of Honor (story source found here). This is just one of the American hero stories to remember.
Military Hero from Wisconsin
Kenneth Stumpf from Neenah, Wisconsin was heading to Duc Pho, Vietnam, leading his Army squad. Three of his men were wounded and they were on a search and destroy mission. While he was there he ran to rescue the casualties, three times! During that time he was under heavy fire. Once he finished the trips, he destroyed a machine gun with hand grenades. Stumpf received the Medal of Honor a year later in 1968, another one of the American hero stories to remember (story source found here).
Michael Murphy, Born a Hero
Navy Lt. Michael P. Murphy was part of a team of Navy SEALs. On June 28th, 2005, “he exposed himself to enemy fire to send a call for help and fought to his death so that a member of his squad could escape, for which he posthumously received the first Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan,” says Murphy’s father. In this article by the American Legion, his father also notes that he was always a team player and upheld the same amount of courage, spirit, service, honor, and resilience that every military man has. He was always fighting for his friends and country, and willing to die for both. Once when he was a 13-year-old, he hit a winning home run in the last inning. As his teammates congratulated him, he said, “They won the game together, because if others hadn’t gotten on base, he wouldn’t have made it to bat,” according to his father. He wasn’t just a hero on June 28th, he was the hero he always was.
According to the Legion, Murphy’s father, Daniel J. Murphy, was a combat-wounded Vietnam War veteran who served with the 25th Infantry Division in Tay Ninh province.
Frank Luke, Rebel
If you’ve seen Top Gun, you’ll understand how Maverick had a hard time obeying orders. Frank Luke was the same, except maybe more so, in an article titled 6 American Heroes of WWI by Evan Andrews. In July of 1918, Arazonian Luke joined the 27th Aero Squadron in France. Despite his reckless flying and cockiness, he was an expert at taking down reconnaissance balloons, earning him America’s greatest “balloon buster,” (Andrews). These are “dangerous targets that were often guarded by anti-aircraft guns, cannons and enemy fighters,” (which) “‘balloon buster’ (was) the nickname assigned to the brash aviators who attacked German observation balloons used to sight artillery,” (Andrews). This means that Luke was not only a great pilot, but had great aim and eyes. After his first success September 12th, he had 15 more victories by September 28th, one of those including a victory where he shot down two balloons and three enemy planes.
According to Andrews, Luke had oftentimes disobeyed orders. On September 29th, he ignored orders from his commanding officer and went on a solo mission near Murvaux, France. After he quickly destroyed three balloons, he was seriously injured by machine gun fire, and climbing out of his plane (which was on the ground), drew his pistol where he may have exchanged shots with German troops. This was the end for Luke, who had lost to his injuries. This wasn’t a total loss, as he had 18 aerial victories in the span of just 18 days as a 21-year-old man (Andrews). According to the article, Luke was later the “first-ever pilot to receive the Medal of Honor.”
The Stories Live On
There are countless stories to be told about American Heroes. Most go unheard or kept to the humble soldier who would rather not receive praise. Some stories end in a hero dying for our country. Some end with a soldier experiencing difficulties, post-war, who would prefer not to be called a hero. Whatever the situation our military men and women go through, we are grateful for them. If we didn’t have them, we wouldn’t have our freedoms. These are just a few American hero stories to remember. May they inspire you and ignite the American patriotism we all have within us.
Happy Independence Day!